Spirals of Fate – Chapter Five (Spiraling out of control, Part 2) – the Conclusion

Spirals of Fate is a serialized
work of fiction centering on the intellectual property of City of Heroes and
City of Villains. Chapter One centered on two villains, Vincent and Mara, and
their breakout from the Zigg, a prison used to house those with super powers.
They met another villain named Mosaic and the three headed for Arachnos flyers
and freedom. Chapter 2 explored the perspective of the young heroes called to
defend their city from the rising tide of crime.

In Chapter 3 Part 1, Mosaic,
Vincent and Mara arrive at an Arachnos-held area only to encounter violence from
other prisoners. In Chapter 5 Part 1, the fight at the bank is in full swing
between the three heroes and Vincent and Mara.


Spirals of Fate: Chapter Five
(Spiraling out of control) – Part Two – the Conclusion

By Michael Lafferty and Matthew
Eberle

Lumiare
watched in mounting horror as the young man below easily fought off both Snowman
and Charger. He had changed tactics and was now using his speed and the ability
to make amazing leaps to hold them off. Charger had been struck half a dozen
times or more with solid blows. The glittering emitters that normally provided
him with the power to fly were damaged, throwing off crazed, shattered light.
Snowman was beginning to slow. Each time he teleported closer to the youth they
exchanged only a few blows before the boy was able to get away. Lumiare pulled a
small device out of her belt and pointed it at their sole opponent since the
girl had suddenly disappeared without warning.

The floating
woman’s eyes widened when she saw the results. The young man’s power signature
was already stronger than it had been when they began the fight. It was
increasing dramatically as she watched the readings. Everything that Charger or
Snowman attempted to raise the stakes in the brutal dance below only spurred
their opponent on to stronger and more devastating attacks. Lumiare stuffed the
sensor back in her belt and raised her hands to her temples. She began to
concentrate very hard on the young man.

A crash
below her made her open her eyes for a moment. Snowman was leaning over, his
hands on his knees as he panted for breath. Charger had collapsed to the street
again. The young man was standing over him, a fist raised. Lumiare wasted no
more time – she assaulted the villain’s mind directly.

Lumiare
found herself standing in a darkened cave. The boy was kneeling in front of her
in the middle of a perfectly circle pool of water. Trapped in the still pond the
boy’s eyes were closed. The water was so still it formed a perfect mirror.
Lumiare was not even sure if he was breathing in there. Golden designs spun out
in complex, asymmetrical characters. Tiny golden lights glittered on the roof of
the cave. Lumiare was afraid. This was wrong. This was very wrong. A single mote
of golden light drifted down from the ceiling. Somehow that mote of light was
her, it was her presence here.

The mote of
light touched the black water. Ripples spread outward, touching the boy. His
eyes opened. Something old was staring out at her. Something older and more
powerful than anything she had ever heard of. And now it was screaming.

Lumiare suddenly found herself back
on the street. The young man’s fist had dropped to his sides. His head was
thrown back and a howl of rage sprang from his open jaws. If a wind from the
depths of hell managed to escape that twisted realm it would have been no less
terrifying to hear. The inky black aura that had surrounded him seemed to
explode outward. When the black field washed over Charger Lumiare watched as the
bright lights in his armor died away. Their opponent casually flung him away,
sending the armored hero careening into a dumpster. The young man sprang into
the air, flying straight towards her. Lumiare turned to flee; already knowing it
was too late.

She saw her
end, at the hands of something human and something inhuman. There was no escape.
Snowman, too, saw what was coming. He knew that if he didn’t act and act
quickly, Lumiare would be broken easily by this powerful young man. His
self-imposed restrictions about violence were flung aside. It was time to be
very violent. The world swirled as he focused on teleporting to a point between
Lumiare and the hurtling opponent. Even as he did so, he reached down deep
inside, and found the source of all his power – it was now or never.

Vincent was
almost to the younger woman, The Voice screaming she must pay for her intrusion,
his own rage at having his mind violated again spurring him on. Then, just
before he got to her, a large frosty being materialized in front of him, his
back arched, his fists balled up and descending like a meteor intent of
destruction.

Vincent looked into the eyes of his
conqueror. He knew the fight was over and he was grateful for that. Mara was
safe, at least he hoped so, and that was all that mattered.

Snowman saw the defenses fall. He
almost screamed “Dear God – NO!” in hopes of stopping his blow, but he was past
that point.

His fists drove down into the side
of the head of the young man, jackhammering him downward.

Snowman fell as well, landing on his
feet.

The fight was over. Vincent lay very
still near Snowman’s feet. There was a welling of regret and self-recrimination
in Snowman. The rage in the young man had suddenly abated and he had accepted
the coup de grace.

He heard a wheeze from his left.
Charger, removing his dented headwear, struggling to breathe properly. “Is he
down?”

Snowman’s face said it all. The
giant man turned to look up at Lumiare, his face contorted with the pain of his
soul. There was gratitude in her face, which gave way to deep concern. She knew
that Snowman had stopped the young man, but the look on his face told her the
cost of that effort – both to Snowman and the young man who lay at his feet.

Snowman reached into his belt and
found a communicator that, surprisingly, was not damaged. He spoke slowly, and
with some pain in his voice, into the mouthpiece.

“We are going to need an ambulance
at Municipal Trust and Securities … and please … please hurry.”

There was a pipe leaking somewhere,
creating the sound of an incessant drip that seemed to reverberate off the brick
walls of the darkened alley. Mara sat, her back to a wall, behind a dumpster,
her body convulsing with sobs. He asked her to leave, he told her to. But why,
then, did it feel so wrong to her? There was a time, not long ago, when she was
alone, and when despair was threatening to overwhelm her, Vincent had come into
her life. She felt protected and her fears diminished.

Now she was
alone. The fear was not there, but the loneliness was. It was a longing to be in
his company, to feel his power there beside her, to know that she was not alone
and was watched over. Not even when she was young had she felt that. There were
those who tried to use her, who wanted her to be something she was not. Vincent
was different. He didn’t demand anything from her. He was there for her, and
when he most needed her, she was not there for him.

But he told
her to leave! It was not a command, but a desperate plea.

This was all
Mosaic’s fault, she said. Her tear-stained eyes flaring with hatred. She would
hunt him down and …

No, she
wouldn’t. Mosaic was not the problem, she realized. His bosses were the problem
and they were too big, too many, too strong. Her thoughts circled back to
Vincent. She was nearby, invisible, barely breathing when the ambulance arrived.

“This one’s
comatose,” one of the orderlies proclaimed, “we need to get him to the ICU unit
in Atlas Park, stat!”

Comatose.
The big one had beaten him down, delivering a blow that shattered more than
Vincent’s body, but Mara’s world.

She allowed
more tears, as the night overtook the city, casting the alley into inky
blackness, a reflection of the mood overlaying her heart.

She sat,
still barely breathing. And then, even as the first grayness of the new day
began to take hold of the sky, she new what must be done. She would go and
rescue Vincent, even if it meant her own life. She would pull him up from that
state of darkness that held his mind, and they would go away together, far away
from this place, from the Mosaics and Arachnos family and far away from any who
would try to hurt them again.


The Voice
considered all that had happened. Frail human body! Even with its power, it
still failed. But had it really failed? The Voice considered. It had seen this
before, but not on this scale. The rage of its host was not his own; it was a
rage granted by The Voice. But it was power to add to the nobility … Nobility?
Yes, that is what it was. This was a noble soul, a noble heart. The human had
given up himself for another. The Voice realized that this was a true measure of
ascension. This world was populated by ordinary types, each bent on so much on
survival, on personal glory that rarely did any rise above the muck of the world
to become something better. Though the body had failed, this human had. Then
another thought … had the body really failed? Or had it done precisely what it
was supposed to do?

There had
been other hosts through the ages. Most had been easily manipulated … The Voice
was shocked when another thought overcame it. IT had been the one manipulated.
This host had used IT to accomplish his ends.

There was a
shudder in the center of the being referred to as The Voice. Was it so old that
it had grown complacent to the point of being almost as simple as those it
co-joined with? This one, this host, had just taught it something. For the first
time, in an eon or more, The Voice allowed a smile. It would not now seek
another host; it appeared this one was worth saving.

Snowman sat
outside the private room in the intensive care wing, his heart wounded by the
pain he had inflicted on the man laying still within the room. He had drawn from
the deepest wellsprings of his own power and thrown all he had into the body of
the man. Just before the blow had been delivered, time had seemed to slow. The
man had actually looked at him and there was a moment – had he imagined it, when
he saw gratitude.

“Penny for
your thoughts?” Lumiare asked.

Snowman
broke from his reverie and looked at her. “He is not a criminal,” was his simple
answer.

“I don’t
think so either,” Lumiare said, “but he was where he should not have been, doing
what he should not have been doing. He was an escapee from The Zigg …”

“He was
being used,” Snowman said.

“Yes, he
was,” another voice added. Snowman and Lumiare looked to see Charger walking
toward them, in plain clothes. He knew what they were thinking. “Armor is in the
shop. It needed repairs.

“And you are
right, Snowman, and I am sorry. I did some checking on him. I think his arrest
sheet was doctored. It didn’t sound right. And, as Paul told me during a talk
one night, a man is judged by his actions. That man, Vincent, his actions were
not those of a bad guy. I saw what was left of the bank’s surveillance tapes. He
told the manager to move as the guards were trying to shoot him for setting off
the bank’s censors. He didn’t attack first – he was attacked.”

“And then
you exacerbated the problem,” Lumiare said.

Charger
gingerly touched his ribs under his left arm, “and paid for it. Ok, I admit it,
I may have been wrong to just charge in there …”

“Not may
have been,” Snowman growled, “you were wrong!”

“Easy big
guy,” Charger gestured for calm. “Ok, I was hasty. I want to be a member of Hero
Corps so bad that sometimes I may not think. Now that I have had time to … well,
maybe I’m not cut out for this line of work.”

“Woah …!”
said Lumiare.

“Easy, kid,”
Snowman said. “I didn’t think I was, at first either, but I realized that it
takes time to understand one’s role in this world. We can work through this …
but on one condition …”

“What’s
that?”

“You try to
listen first, think second and then RESPOND third.”

Charger
looked thoughtful for a moment. “I guess it’s worth a try,” he said, with a
light smile.

“I suggest
that we all take some time to think over what has happened,” Lumiare said. “We
have a lot of work ahead of us, not only as individuals but as a team. However,
we have been up a long time, and I think we need to head back to headquarters,
finish up our reports and indulge in some downtime.”

Charger
brightened a little, “you know they are calling us heroes for the way we took
them down at the bank.”

Snowman
glowered. “Took what down? We got one arrest, the girl got away, and an artifact
was stolen. All things considered,” he looked in the direction of Vincent’s
room, “I don’t feel much like a hero.

“But,” he
continued, “I think we should head back. Not much can be done here.”

The three
started toward the elevators when Lumiare paused. “I’ll catch up, I just want to
leave instructions at the nurse’s station in case our arrest’s condition
changes. I would like to talk to him.”

“As would
I,” mumbled Snowman. “I think I owe him an apology.”

The lithe
woman stepped out of the locker rooms, clad in a nurse’s uniform. She had easily
managed to slip past security, find the lockers and steal a uniform that would
fit her. Now, to find Vincent. The intensive care unit was on the third floor.
She should be able to get up there. After the initial screening, security had
proven, so far, to be light.

She moved to
the elevators, trying to look like she belonged there. The doors opened and
another woman stepped out – a woman with blue hair, wearing a spandex uniform of
purple and gold.

Lumiare
glanced at the nurse, then froze and looked at her again. It was her! The women
locked eyes. Mara considered attacking, but knew it would not help rescue
Vincent. Lumiare thought about a psionic lockdown and then calling for backup.
This woman was dangerous, but something made her pause, for the second time
since meeting this woman. Then Lumiare did something she rarely did, she looked
‘into’ the woman. What she saw there …

“He is in
Room 3B,” she said softly. “Take this,” a security badge was offered and taken,
”it will get you past the guards and into his room.”

As Mara
entered the elevator, Lumiare walked toward the hospital’s exit.

 

This is a fictional story is
based on the intellectual property of City of Heroes and City of Villains. That
property was used as a backdrop for this story with the permission of both Ncsoft and Cryptic Studios. While this story uses that world as a backdrop, it
is not meant to reflect either gameplay or storylines with the massively
multiplayer online world. Some of the images used with Spirals of Fate have been
taken from the game and modified to suit the illustrative purposes of this
story. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.